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How should I deal with this?

  1. Aug 5, 2013 #1
    A professor duo were very strict and gave me a 20% on a paper that was worth 40%.

    Let me explain before jumping to conclusions.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I accepted their 'strictness'. Even accepted the 20% result. Even on 40% it wouldn't be a pass anyway.

    The thing is, I suspect that they thought I would get 30 or 40% and I would go begging to raise it to 50% or something. They may have went like "forget it, be even more strict, give it the harshest mark possible so there is no chance to do anything about it" (probably).

    Now, the thing is, I still don't care if that's what they did since even on 40% I would accept my fate and I wouldn't expect for a pass after asking for it.

    But, it scares me about the next try. What if they are really that strict? Would I have a chance?

    By the way, I'm talking relatively confidently about those numbers. I went through the paper + its solutions carefully and I noticed I definitely deserved a 35 to 40% (still a fail, but not a 20%).

    What should I do? Should I ask them? I'm afraid it may be considered an attack to them and come back to bite me.

    In reality I don't care if it's a fail, I'll study hard, it's the strictness that get me. If a paper that deserves 35-40% gets a 20%, should I be afraid if the next try deserves a 60%?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2013 #2
    Excuse me for being harsh, but your mentality is completely wrong. You talk about how other people are strict and how other people are ruining your grades.

    This is the completely wrong mindset. You should think about what you did wrong in the paper. How can you improve yourself? What can be done better next time. That is how you should be thinking now.

    Sure, go ask the professors about the paper. But ask them useful questions, like "What could I do better next time" or ask for hints to improve yourself.

    Stop blaming others for your failures, start looking at yourself.
  4. Aug 5, 2013 #3
    That's quite biased. How do you know they are unbiased?

    That's why I used the second sentence "Let me explain before jumping to conclusions."

    As I said I think the paper objectively deserves to be failed. I just think it was "pushed" to go even further, at least to the furthest limits of strictness possible.
  5. Aug 5, 2013 #4
    Look at things this way. If they are biased and are more strict than necessary, then what can you do about it? Nothing. It's useless to keep pondering about the scenario. It doesn't add anything.

    The only thing you can do is to learn from your mistakes and do better next time. That is your only option.

    When I took a programming class, we had a prof who thought badly about math majors. So he was always very strict, and sometimes even unfair. I started blaming them, but I realized soon that that wouldn't solve anything. So I started working so hard and I started making my programs good enough so that they couldn't say anything wrong about it. It worked. And in the end, I learned much more from that prof than from any other prof I took.
  6. Aug 6, 2013 #5


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    "a paper" and "strict" are a bit broad.
    Strictness is often necessary because students in some lower level (or even at some upper level) courses need to learn precision, and to follow instructions, and maybe need to learn to trust certain concepts and skills; including a course-department or course-instructor requirement to show basic features in the written assignment in a very structured format. Maybe some of this kind of practice is more structured than what you had done before and it requires you to adapt.
    Lab reports in some courses are required to be "formal", meaning that these are "papers" which must conform to a clearly defined structure. This kind of formal report assignment usually becomes very comfortable a format for you because it becomes a structure that YOU CAN RELY ON as a way to organize everything that you want to discuss and report in this formal report. Each of the parts of such a formal report are meant to accomplish something very clear and understandable; once you learn how a formal report works, you just follow the same format for every formal report.

    You did not tell us what course you are in for this "paper", and you did not tell us what kind of paper you wrote. You will or should learn what was wrong about your paper and could then know how to adjust your next such papers for your course.
  7. Aug 6, 2013 #6
    As a former TA, I can tell you the prof probably didnt give a [expletive] who you were when they were grading. They would rather spend their energy doing research or whatever. The problem is you. If you failed even with your original grade you need to asses your study habits.
  8. Aug 6, 2013 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    Oh, for heaven's sake.

    One reason is that, less than a week ago, you made the same complaint, about a test. So you're really not asking us to believe a professor is risking his job by being biased against you, but two professors are. Hmmm.

    More to the point, your complaint isn't that you got an F, but that you didn't get a high enough F. That argument requires that you understand the material well enough to make these kind of fine distinctions about how good a particular piece of failing work is. But the fact that you got an F means you don't understand the material. So the whole argument collapses.
  9. Aug 6, 2013 #8
    Oh I do think the highest probability is that they were harsh to the whole class. In fact I have plotted the results and there is clearly a trend of a much higher failure rate compared to the rest modules in the course (a clear 10 to 20% higher failure rate than even some of the most demanding modules).

    So, I don't get the personal attacks of some people. It seems they have a pre-conception that whoever discusses it must be a crybaby. What about, you have absolutely no idea of the real conditions and you talk out of your bias when you judge me?

    Anyway, the thing is the highest probability is that they marked the exam for everyone with a much higher strictness compared to almost all of the rest of the course and I wonder if it would be damaging to query about it.

    At this point I suspect it would be more beneficial to not mention it at all and just study hard.
  10. Aug 6, 2013 #9


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    You are not specific enough. What course? What topic? What type of paper assignment? How did the paper render reduced credit?
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